The kitchen: your number one workout place in the house

By Jaconel Janssen

Don’t the Scandinavians say ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing’?

Indeed, the best thing I bought all year was a good raincoat. One that keeps the rain and wind out, looks nice, and has big pockets! There is no excuse for me not to go out.

Even if I have to push myself sometimes to go out in the winter rain, inevitably, I feel better after my walk.

But I also love spending time indoors. These dark and cosy winter months, we spend a bit more time in our kitchen, even if it is just for a cup of tea. Does that mean you will not have time for movement? Not at all. The kitchen is possibly the most movement friendly place in your house.

The act of cooking already involves plenty of activity. Squatting to get things out of the fridge, carrying pots and pans, chopping vegetables and doing the dishes.

This is all movement. Try and do this with good posture. Slow down the movements, repeat them a few times. When you get the pots out of the cupboards, do bicep curls and lift and lower them a number of times to get extra ‘vitamin M’ (movement).

With cold water, lift and lower the kettle in front of you with straight arms, shoulders relaxed down your back. As you stay tall and upright, feel how your core is working to hold you in that aligned position.

Use the kitchen counter for a back stretch. With straight arms, rest your hands on the counter (with or without a rolling pin), move your hips away in the other direction, keeping the back straight, legs bent or straight. Relax the shoulders and back, keep breathing.

There are plenty of objects you can use for weight lifting. Pots, pans, potatoes, bags of rice, the rolling pin. With an upright spine, let your arms, with tins of beans in your hands, hang by your side. On the out breath, slowly lift your arms up to shoulder height, keeping the shoulders relaxed and the elbows soft. You should see the tins from the corner of your eyes. Then slowly lower down. Try eight or ten repetitions, once or twice.

We love a good squat, wherever we are. But have you tried a lunge? Another great move for lower body strength, it takes a little more coordination and balance. It’s perfect for the kitchen, where you can hold on to something.

Start with your feet facing forward, hip distance apart. Step one leg back, lift the back heel, and bring the pelvis and torso upright. Slowly bring your back knee down, then up again. Do a few in a row, or switch legs, and repeat. You can add lifting the arms.

Heel lifts can be done anytime, anywhere. Not letting the ankles roll outwards, push into the kitchen counter for added upper body strength. Or let go of the hands for an extra challenge for your balance.

Who would have thought that your kitchen might be the best place in the house for strengthening, stretching and balancing?

And not just with the kitchen scales!

Jaconel Janssen is a Pilates and Buff Bones teacher and founder of Pilates People Cork, a monthly outdoor class. For more information on classes or one-to-one sessions, visit or Facebook Pilates People Cork or contact or 085-1613505.